Ideas: Create an Inclusive Team Environment

This idea is excerpted from Barbara’s book “Handle with CARE — Motivating and Retaining Employees” (McGraw-Hill 2002).

The Idea:

In their book True Leaders, Bette Price and George Ritcheske share how Lou Smith, President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, creates an environment where everyone is valued:

“I think enduring organizations are inclusive, “ says Lou Smith. “Not for any reason other than that’s how you become a pre-eminent organization. Whey wouldn’t I want to capture the input and intelligence and the energy of all of our associates rather than just five people who report directly to me with the privilege of having a senior title? Why wouldn’t I want to capture input from the newest associate?” Smith explains that he has breakfast with all new associates to establish early on that the foundation operates in an environment in which anyone who comes to his office understands that they work within an environment that is not about hierarchy access, but about everyone bringing ideas to the forefront that are important to the organization.

Smith creates an environment that includes three elements that he terms as “the givens” for a successful organization: mutual respect, trust, and integrity. “If you’ve got those three, you can disagree, but you still respect one another. You know that no matter what the issues are, it’s not about personal agendas because our integrity is so high. We are not going to violate any of those. We will make mistakes—we’re not perfect—but you can’t violate those three.”

The Idea In Action:

When employees join, they receive a “toolbox” that the general manager creates. There is Krazy Glue to represent the team sticking together and Tylenol for the inevitable headache. Each wee, she stocks the toolbox with something new. The larger symbolism is that the team is creating a toolbox for people who wan to help other people in need—the team’s mission!

Mark Zagorski of WorldNow started a monthly “drill.” Every month someone is presented with The Team Drill, a clunky old tool that he picked up at a garage sale. The winner must perform a few simple tasks: Personalize the drill in some way and devise a new rule for how to care for it. One team member added a Bart Simpson trigger and another made the drill wireless by adding an antenna. At the end of the month the winner passes the drill to the next star. The dented old drill captures their unofficial mantra of “drilling down to solve problems.”

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at and

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